Many celebrities have spoken up about mental health struggles in the last few years (thank you Chrissy Teigen, Demi Lovato, Michael Phelps, and Lady Gaga!!), but if you’ve been tuned in the last week, you may have seen mental health has moved from a side show to the main stage.
On Saturday, Megan thee Stallion, known as the Hot Girl Coach and the H-Town Hottie, proudly strut a new title.
The award-winning artist who inspired a season of self-confidence for women of all shapes, sizes, and colors went on national television and said out loud that she has body issues and anxiety. That she should get help. That she just wants to talk to somebody who gets her.
WE KNOW THAT FEELING.
If that wasn’t enough to raise awareness of the impact of mental health issues, Taylor Swift followed it up in the wee hours this morning with an album that speaks to her eating disorder and depression.
In Anti-Hero, she perfectly describes the insomnia of depression that so many people wrestle with when she says:
Midnights become my afternoons When my depression works the graveyard shift All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room
Between the two of them, these women have released more than a dozen albums, won nearly 50 Grammy awards, and endured the brutal scrutiny of the public eye for almost 20 years.
Despite the social dissection of their entire being, they have generously offered up more vulnerability, invited us in to see who they really are, and shown us their innermost struggles. Most people can’t even do that with their own family members.
STOP THE STIGMA. GET HELP.
These public journeys of healing do so much to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and end the unnecessary suffering of those who resist seeking treatment.
“Some people may not recognize their mental health struggles or may feel embarassed to acknowledge them,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at bonmente.
“But when a celebrity or other admired person speaks about their challenges, it helps others feel seen, to find words for their own experience, and hopefully to seek help.”
The kids will be out of school. The days are longer. Everyone is bored. Can you feel the stress building already?
Is it summer break or a summer nightmare?
Summer is often a time of year associated with vacations, relaxation, and sleeping in, but that’s far from the truth for some families. Summer is a stressful season to be a parent. Let’s talk about the top summer stressors families face and tips you can use to help find your zen this summer.
Finding Childcare When School Is Out
Each summer, working parents are faced with the task of finding childcare to replace those in-school hours. Not only can this cause financial stress for some families, but summer camps and daycares often fill up months in advance.
For parents with children who can stay home without adult supervision, the stress adds another layer of duty during the busy workday. When school was in session, it provided a sense of security and routine which allowed you to be more focused and productive at work.
Now that they are at home, it’s stressful to keep checking in on them. You also have to field their questions about how to make lunch or where you put their roller skates each hour. No wonder it’s hard to find focus and productivity during summer break.
Tip: Summer is the perfect time to work on your work/life balance. If possible, talk to your boss about adjusting your hours or working a more flexible schedule during summer break. If you aren’t having any luck because every daycare and summer camp in town is already filled, reach out to your support networks to see if they have recommendations or ideas (hello, nanny share!).
Losing ‘Me Time’
Summer is here, and you can’t even use the bathroom alone! The kids are around all of the time, and it makes keeping your sense of calm really difficult. When school was in session, the kids had sports, extra-curricular activities, assignments, and early bedtime, but now that’s gone. So how do you find some time for self-care during this busy season?
Tip: Be flexible! Remember that self-care isn’t about a long trip to a fancy spa. Look forward to incorporating ‘me time’ whether it’s using the daycare at the gym or waking up 30 minutes earlier to enjoy coffee by yourself. Once again, don’t forget to lean into your support network to see if you can arrange a few get-togethers that can buy you a few hours of adult time. Playdates can be great but don’t forget to return the favor.
Cheeseburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and s’mores around the campfire are a few staples of summer cuisine. But these aren’t always healthy options. Add to that the fact that it’s easy for kids to snag a ‘few extra hours’ hooked up to devices and video games while mom and dad are at work.
There’s no question that summer disrupts the routine of just about every family with school-aged children,” said bonmente’s Teri Arana, LCSW. “It’s normal to feel an increased level of stress and anxiety during this time of year, but try to plan ahead and create healthy routines to keep you on track.”
We’re Here For Support-This Summer & Beyond
With summer stressors knocking on your door, now is the perfect time to book an appointment with our team. The best part is you don’t even have to leave home, making therapy more convenient than ever! Let’s put together a plan that will help you beat stress and manage anxiety to enjoy all the summer has to offer.
Fall is officially here! Cue up sweater season, daydream about apple picking, and roast a glass for the return of the ever-popular pumpkin spiced latte.
Things are changing all around us. The long summer days are fading away and a chill has started to settle in the air. Some people have been ready for fall since summer started. Others are already counting down the days until spring. No matter what your favorite time of year, embracing the change of the season helps you to be present and focused on the moment.
Despite the mood boost that may come from sipping on a pumpkin spiced latte, depression, anxiety, and other common mental health disorders tend to stick around regardless of the season. It’s that lingering gloom that’s the difference between having a bad day and suffering from depression.
As we welcome a new season of growth and change, it’s the perfect opportunity to do some self-reflection. Here are a few ways to check in on your mood this fall.
Evaluate Your Routine
Depression and other mental health disorders can creep up slowly and manifest in different ways. Sometimes depression can trigger small behavioral changes. Maybe you find it easier to polish off that pint of ice cream on the couch after an awful day. All of the fall activities and after-school commitments make it easy to skip the gym. Before you know it, these little things add up in BIG ways and add a heaviness to your mood.
Routines are essential at any stage of life, from childhood to adulthood. The key is creating healthy habits that lead to a lifestyle you can maintain. Start by writing down your daily routine and look for rituals you repeat.
Are they serving a purpose?
Do they bring you joy?
Do they cause stress?
Find ways to revamp your daily routine to pave the way to living a healthier, happier life.
Identify Your Emotional Triggers
What throws you into an automatic bad or anxious mood? A sound? A smell? The way the wind blows? Triggers are unique emotional responses to stimuli in our environment. As the saying goes, “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
Just like a flower, our well-being is linked to our environment. Our surroundings influence our behaviors and impact the way we feel. If your personal environment continuously sends cues and triggers that affect your mood negatively, it’s time for a change!
Take some time to reflect on areas of your personal environment that are holding you back from thriving. Identify your triggers (words, people, places, etc.) and be on the lookout so you can respond consciously instead of acting on reflex.
Practice (And Prioritize) Self-Care
We’ve all got way too much to do and not enough time to do it. It is so easy to put yourself second in order to meet the demands of everyone else, but studies show that does more harm than good. Self care means consciously doing things that support your physical, emotional, and mental health.
Acts of self care include getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising, and going to necessary appointments. Self care also includes having brunch with old friends or going to visit a family member you miss. And at bonmente, self care means learning healthy ways to cope with emotions and being proactive in addressing mood shifts.
If you’re struggling to prioritize your self care, therapy can give you the tools and support you need to thrive in every season.
“Therapy promotes understanding and communication, allowing people to improve their relationships, outlook, and self-esteem, ,” said Riz Ahmad, a psychiatrist at bonmente. “Participating in therapy is probably the most significant act of self care someone can do for themselves to improve their life.”
Turn Over A New Leaf This Fall With Bonmente
Sometimes taking the first step and reaching out for support is the hardest part. That’s why were doing things differently at bonmente. Our technology-forward practice utilizes telepsychiatry to give patients secure, confidential, and convenient access to expert practitioners.
Let us help tease apart the messiness of mental health and give you the tools and support you need to move forward. Take control of anxiety, depression, and other common mental health disorders to unburden yourself of constant worry or sadness. Show yourself some love and reach out today for personalized support.
Simone Biles, who stands just over 4 and a half feet tall, is perhaps the greatest gymnast the world will ever know. She has won 6 medals in the Olympics and 25 medals in the World Championships. She is performing stunts that historically have never been done by a woman, and she does so flawlessly.
She has been dubbed G.O.A.T., an honor bestowed to her by virtue of her skill and bravery. To date she truly is the greatest gymnast of all time.
But when she walked away from Olympic competition in order to focus on her mental health this week, she may have become the bravest human of all time.
With all eyes on her, every camera zoomed in on her face, an entire world watching her every move, Simone stood up and said, “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”
She’d had a few hours of the jitters between her earlier practice and her warm ups. She’d been having some trouble getting sleep. And when it came time to perform, she gave it a shot.
But it wasn’t there. The mental focus it takes to pull off the feats of physics that made her famous, admired, and pressured to perform wasn’t there. It was like she could see the crack, and rather than force it, which could come at great physical cost (like quadriplegia… or death), she stopped. In doing so she not only kept the crack from getting bigger, she also became a new kind of champion.
A champion of mental health.
It is SO HARD to speak up when mental illness decides to hijack your brain, your emotions, even your organs.
When you’re just sitting in a normal room doing normal things and your heart tries to beat out of your chest because anxiety is doing its dance in your body, it is SO HARD to say, “I’m having a massive panic attack and need to step away.”
When you’re going through the motions of life for the benefit of those around you but you’re internally exploring new depths of darkness because depression is settling in, it is SO HARD to say, “I need help. This is out of my control.”
Simone, in what is probably the most courageous thing she has ever done, did the hard thing. She, one of the best physical specimens walking the planet, told the whole world, “I am not okay.”
Put mental health first, ” said Simone Biles. “Because if you don’t, you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.”
Simone has been open about her ADHD diagnosis and her experience with therapy, but this move, where she put mental health above all else – above the whole world – is more awe-inspiring than the moves she invented that now bear her name or that Yurchenko Double Pike she debuted this year.
And it’s not just that she listened to her mind when her body was in the spotlight. It’s also her behavior after her decision to leave the competition. Knowing the cameras would be on her non-stop and people would be speculating, gossiping, and criticizing her decision, she still came back.
She came out with her head high, resolute in her choice.
She stayed at the competition to cheer on her teammates, supporting them like a true sportswoman. She congratulated the winning athletes. She attended the press conference after and did interviews with reporters.
Mental health issues can make you want to run and hide, to keep your out-of-whackness to yourself, but Simone demonstrated that mental health is literally the most important thing in life and that it is okay to say “I’m not okay.”
What a win for the whole world.
bonmente offers comprehensive treatments and guidance to manage anxiety, depression, and all other mental health issues. Schedule an appointment with our mental health providers today.
Remember the thrill of putting the kids back on the bus after their long summer vacation and then going home to listen to … SILENCE? The good old days of 2019, when the most stressful part of going back to school was sourcing the unruled notebook paper on the school supplies list?
Like pretty much everything else, COVID-19 took the thrill and carefree joy out of back to school and replaced it with a mountain of stress, worry, uncertainty, and anxiety. The 2021 back to school season makes the stress we had in the pre-pandemic days seem like recess. Schools in California are set to return to in-person classes next month, just as the Delta variant has started teaching us a lesson. As the buses start to roll out and collect our innocent little kids, many of whom are too young for vaccinations, how are we supposed to balance our natural concern and stress with the importance of putting knowledge in those spongy minds?
We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19, but so many questions remain.
What will the classroom look like?
Will everyone wear a mask?
How good are these kids at catching their coughs and washing their hands?
What if my child isn’t vaccinated yet?
Shouldn’t we just continue online for a little while longer?
All of these are valid questions and concerns. Though there is a great deal of anxiety around back to school and COVID-19, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Namely, get vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone 12 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19.
But what about our elementary-aged kiddos? What about our preschoolers? As of now, no COVID vaccines have been approved for this age group, and they’re the ones who need a lot of care, guidance, and gentle reminders to practice hygiene when it’s just a regular old “cold season.”
Schools are working hard to come up with solutions to keep our kids and their employees safe, but this is a new curriculum and we’re not sure what the real test is going to be yet. As parents, friends, employees, and healthcare professionals, we’re in this with you, wondering how this is going to work and how we are supposed to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy – physically AND mentally.
So here are a few things to remember as we navigate back to school season.
Teachers Are Smart
In creating a plan to reopen schools, California has done its homework. A lot of really intelligent people, many of whom have school-aged children, have come to the table to provide insight and contribute to the plan. The CDC, the California Department of Public Health, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, teachers, child care providers, superintendents, educators, parents, and students weighed in to provide reopening guidance that addresses worries across the spectrum.
Learning Is Important
Thanks to scientific research about COVID-19 and the development of vaccines, infection rates are down. We have learned a lot about testing, treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the past 18 months, and that knowledge is going to better prepare us as we head back to school or work. We’ve learned that masks and social distancing not only provided protection from COVID-19, but also from other nasty bugs like the flu. We’ve learned that it’s more important to stay home when you’re feeling sick than to force yourself to go in to work. There is no doubt that we’ve got a lot of learning still to do, but we have knowledge, and knowledge gives us at least some power to protect ourselves.
Kids Need To Go To School
Research has shown that the social isolation of quarantine and anxiety of the pandemic has increased depression and anxiety among children around the world, particularly in middle and high schoolers.
For young people, missing significant life events and rites of passage, whether it’s birthday parties or prom, takes a psychological toll,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at bonmente.
“For young people, missing significant life events and rites of passage, whether it’s birthday parties or prom, takes a psychological toll,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at bonmente. “Though we won’t entirely realize the mental health effects of COVID-19 for years to come, we know that kids have been having worrisome mood disturbances that come from quarantine-related isolation. They need their friends back.”
And they need their teachers back. If you’ve been a “home educator” for the past 18 months, you have probably (and understandably) let Fortnight, TikTok, or Roblox be a substitute teacher at least a few times. In-person learning is infinitely better for a child’s brain development than the most stimulating TikTok ever created.
COVID-19 is declining. But mental health issues are on the rise.
Even with the Delta variant setback, we have made huge strides in fighting COVID-19. But it’s possible that our next pandemic will be one of mental health proportions. A study at the University of Oxford found that one in three people infected with COVID experienced some type of mental health issue within six months of infection. For those who have been diligently resisting exposure, the isolation, fear, fatigue, stress, and anxiety have also threatened mental wellness.
So, How Do You Feel?
Almost everyone is experiencing a little burnout these days, and back-to-school is just the point on the pencil. The best protection you have against COVID-19 is a vaccination, a mask, and social distancing, but the best protection you have against COVID-19 triggered mental health issues is early intervention.
“The sooner a person gets help for psychiatric symptoms, the sooner they can get better,” said Alicia Bulin, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at bonmente. “The most common mental health complaints – anxiety and depression – can be the most crippling to your day-to-day life, and those are the ones on the rise as a direct result of the pandemic. If you’re not feeling like yourself, there is help.”
To make getting help as easy as possible, bonmente offers access to excellent care that is literally at your fingertips thanks to our innovative telepsychiatry interface. Schedule an appointmentwith our mental health providers today.
Food is good. It tastes delicious, it anchors us socially, it inspires special memories, and our bodies need it. And, sometimes when we polish off that pint of ice cream on the couch after an awful day, we feel better. Until we don’t.
Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging area of study that evaluates the link between food and mood.
Studies around the globe have shown that eating “healthy” foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can protect mental health and that eating “junk” foods like potato chips and ice cream can threaten it.
“The gut is full of serotonin receptors, so it’s not surprising that scientific research into food and mood is supporting what conventional wisdom has taught us,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at bonmente. “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, one also found in the brain, that is associated with feelings of happiness and with circadian rhythms. This chemical link, known as the gut-brain axis, offers new potential in helping people with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.”
The perfect menu has yet to be put together, but research has shown fruits and vegetables are central to a mood-improving diet.
Higher fruit and vegetable consumption has been correlated with lowering the prevalence of depression and anxiety. One interesting study from 2013 showed mood improvement the day of and the day after increased intake of fruits and vegetables among young adults.
A traditional Mediterranean diet also shows promise in mental health improvement, as does a mostly vegetarian diet and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 diet. All of these diets emphasize fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids from fish. They also stay away from processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sweets.
So, what should you put on your plate?
There’s no doubt that ice cream band-aids and pizza binges are here to stay, but if you want to improve your mental health, they can’t be your main source of sustenance. Here are some mood-improving foods to reach for instead.
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, is high in flavonoids, which increase blood flow to your brain, reduce inflammation, and improve brain health. Talk about a pick-me-up.
Yogurt, like other fermented foods, helps sustain populations of healthy bacteria in your gut, which may increase serotonin levels. Research is ongoing, but it appears to show connections between a healthy gut microbiome and lower rates of depression.
Step aside apples, it’s time for bananas to get the limelight. Full of vitamin B6, which helps with dopamine and serotonin production, bananas provide a slow sugar release and helps prevent energy dumps that can cause mood dips.
A 2019 study over 10 years and following nearly 16,000 people found that eating nuts was linked to a 23% lower risk of depression. Brazil nuts, pine nuts, and almonds contain brain-important minerals zinc and selenium.
5. Coffee & Tea
Both coffee and tea have demonstrated an antidepressant effect, with one study of 50,000 women finding that 2-3 cups of caffeinated beverages decreased the likelihood of depression by 15%. If coffee give you the jitters or prompts anxiety, try green or black tea.
bonmente offers comprehensive treatments and guidance to manage anxiety, depression, and all other mental health issues. Schedule an appointment with our mental health providers today.